#26 Re-read and Re-apply 7 Habits: Personal Mission Statement

I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People just as I was starting my first real full-time job after college, and it was a game-changer. In a lot of ways, I think that book and the subsequent shifts in thinking were what made my entry into the working world bearable, and even a Good Thing. I definitely give that book credit for helping me to change my attitude about a lot of things. (For those of you who knew me in college, pre-7 Habits, I apologize. I swear I am a much better person now.)

But if you don’t practice something for a while, you lose it, and so I wanted to take the opportunity this year to re-read the book, since it’s the best and only self-help book I’ve ever read that really stuck. Like, seriously, I still refer back to it in my day-to-day life and career.

Habit 1 is all about being proactive (not the facial acne cleanser), and I’m not really going to talk about that here. But you should totally read the book and learn about being proactive. It’s such a subtle shift, but it makes a huge difference in everything, and it’s the foundation for a lot of great things, too. I’m really glad I re-read that part, because I certainly needed a refresher.

What I want to write about today, though, is the Personal Mission Statement. Companies often have mission statements that supposedly drive the direction and goals of the company. And that’s great, but I never thought I needed one until I read this book nearly 8 years ago. But think about it: If you don’t know where you’re going, how in the world are you supposed to get there?

Writing a personal mission statement is not that easy. Even for a writer! I remember thinking long and hard about it when I first wrote mine, and after a few iterations (and several beers), I came up with this:

Think Win/Win– Remember consideration and courage!
Give generously of money, time, and love… There’s enough to go around!
Love (v.) everyone.
See the situation from many perspectives.
Remember the Golden Rule.
Accept others as imperfect, without judging or idolizing.
Forgive freely.
Respect human dignity.
Create an aura of peace.
Choose harmony over anger.
Turn pain into action.
Enjoy the little things.
Loosen up!
Budget energy– Be sure to save some for play!
Take responsibility.
Work on self-improvement without self-abuse.
Take criticism thoughtfully and insults with a grain of salt.
Accept help.
Plan for the future, but depend on the present for happiness.

That’s a pretty good list, for a fresh-faced, dumb-assed 22-year-old. There are a lot of good thoughts in here. Buuuut, it’s really long. And kind of complicated. And a little unstructured.

When I sat down to rewrite my personal mission statement, I purposely didn’t look at my old one. I didn’t want to be influenced by what I’d written before. (Ok, fine, I was just too lazy to look up the old one.) Funny, though, there are a lot of similarities. And there should be! Your personal mission statement should come from a pretty deep place inside yourself– a place that doesn’t depend on circumstance. So, really, it shouldn’t change much, at its core. You’ll see that my current statement (still a work in progress, probably always a work in progress) is very similar, if more succinct.

Love actionably– others and myself.
Focus on the positives.
Write every day.
Never stop learning.
Let peace come.

This, I hope, will continue to evolve. Maybe even get shorter. Hey, if I gotta live this thing every day, it has to be short enough for me to remember!

My next step? Find a place to put this where I see it often. I think that was my biggest failing on my last attempt. I posted it on my blog and then never really looked at it again. Hrm.

How about you? Do you have a personal mission statement? A vision board? A motto for life? What is it, and how to you remind yourself of it every day?

  • The two things I try to keep in mind, but don’t necessarily succeed very well at actually doing:
    1. Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. (I do have a tendency to focus on what’s coming next. Ferris Bueller is a genius of mindfulness.)
    2. Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes. (Seriously, if I were excellent to everybody, I’d pretty much be the best person ever. Bill & Ted were on to something. Or just on something… Hm…)

    It feels silly that the core of my life’s philosophy and/or mission comes from two 80s movies, but it’s kind of central to my character at the same time.

    • I don’t think it’s silly at all– I think it’s fantastic! You found simple, meaningful things that are personal to you and that you can focus on. That’s the whole point! Love it.